People say that when your career is something that you love, you never work a day in your life.
Dr. Michael Woodbury is an orthopedic surgeon at Faith Regional Health Services who sub-specializes in hip and knee replacements and revisions. He is originally from Stanton and studied anatomy and physiology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
After he graduated from UNL, Woodbury continued to study medicine at Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale. From there, he had his first internship and residency at Michigan State, and he then went to work in New Orleans, Saginaw and Las Vegas before returning to Norfolk.
Woodbury said he became interested in medicine because he spent a lot of time in a hospital when he was young because his brother was sick.
“I was kind of wondering why these things happened, how the doctors worked, how what they did help him get better, and all that stuff kind of was interesting to me,” Woodbury said.
He said ever since he realized that he wanted to be a doctor, he has never second-guessed his decision.
“My undergraduate education was so good in the sciences that my first year of medical school was not difficult,” he said.
He also said that knowledge about the human body and its functions is the number one thing that drew him into the field.
“I wanted to know about the human body, how it worked, how we can help it and make people feel better, because there's nothing more realizing in life than you taking your health for granted,” Woodbury said. “Then when it's taken away, all you can think about is how easy it was when it was there and you never thought about it. So getting people back to that health is what was important to me.”
The upsides of Woodbury’s career, he said, are being able to help people get better and do things that they loved to do but were forced to stop doing physically. He said that one of the “highs” of his job is when his patients come back to thank him for all of his work and help.
“Yeah, making somebody's life better is the best part,” he said.
Unfortunately, not all medical situations with patients go smoothly for Woodbury. He said the hardest conversations happen with patients who have morbid obesity who want him to perform surgery on them because they are in pain, but he knows that he can’t because it may lead to future complications.
“So having the conversations with people where I have to tell them it's not in good medical knowledge or good medical practice to do surgery on them when they're hurting, that's hard for me,” Woodbury said. “It's a hard conversation. It's not a simple one where I say, 'Well, you're too big. There's nothing I can do for you.' I think that's a cop-out.”
On a typical day at the office, Woodbury said he normally wakes up at around 3:30 a.m. and exercises before heading to work. He does his rounds at 7:30 a.m. before seeing his first patient of the day, normally at 8 a.m. If it’s a nonsurgical day, he spends the day meeting with patients and reviewing consults.
He heads home usually around 5 p.m. and spends the rest of the evening with his family, where he will remain on call 24 hours until he heads to work for surgery the next day.
For surgeries, Woodbury said he does not feel the pressure because he mentally goes over the surgeries before performing them.
“The minute that patient has been boarded for surgery, they might not have that surgery for two months, but almost every single day, I'm thinking about that surgery,” he said. “It’s something that I'll do a lot of, so that when I go in there, I've done it 1,000 times in my head, and those nerves just go away. So I think I'm just not really ever that nervous about it.”
Woodbury said he is extremely passionate about what he does and loves it — so much so that he doesn’t ever feel like it’s work.
“It's just something I just feel like, ‘If I don't do this, no one will,’ ” he said. “It's like a duty, it's not a job.”